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Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. After all, physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight, and even boost your self-esteem. And you can reap these benefits regardless of your age, sex or physical ability.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults include aerobic activity and strength training in their fitness plans, specifically:
- At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity
- Strength training exercises of all the major muscle groups at least twice a week
Regular exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and strengthen your bones and muscles. But if you haven't exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.
When you're designing your personal fitness program, consider your fitness goals. Think about your fitness likes and dislikes, and note your personal barriers to fitness. Then consider practical strategies for keeping your fitness program on track.
Starting a fitness program is an important decision, but it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can make fitness a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime.
Oct. 11, 2019
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- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. 2nd ed. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition. Accessed Dec. 4, 2018.
- Physical activity and health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health/index.html. Accessed Oct. 9, 2017.
- Tips to help you get more active. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/tips-get-active. Accessed Oct. 10, 2017.
- Peterson DM. The benefits and risks of exercise. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Oct. 9, 2017.
- Improve your flexibility. National Institute on Aging. https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/exercises/flexibility. Accessed Oct. 9, 2017.
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- AskMayoExpert. Aerobic exercise. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
- AskMayoExpert. Strength training. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
- Thomas DT, et al. American College of Sports Medicine joint position statement. Nutrition and athletic performance. 2016; doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000852.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 11, 2017.